When someone says you should be networking, what exactly does he or she mean?

In the business sense, networking is leveraging your business and personal connections to bring you a regular supply of new business. Sounds simple, but it’s a process. And that process starts with meeting people and building relationships.

That’s where special networking groups like Pagoda Business Network come in to play. Because, after all, how many people do you know and where can you go to meet others, specifically those in targeted fields you want to connect with?

A productive networking function is much more than shaking hands and collecting business cards. It’s meeting professionals that may be your future “go-tos” for products and services – even advice. It’s discovering, through conversation, other opportunities, like volunteerism, where you can help your community and meet other like-minded individuals doing the same. It’s introducing others to who you are and what you have to offer them professionally. It’s being active, memorable and providing value to others you meet through your presence and making them want to stay in touch with you.

For example, imagine you’re a caterer. You want individuals you meet while networking to know what you do, what makes you unique, and why they should think of you if the need for someone in your field arises in their personal or professional future.

How do you make this happen? Be proactive! Develop your networking plan and make it work for you. It should certainly include networking.

When that call for new business comes, be sure to follow up promptly and follow through with an unforgettable, exceptional and memorable service and experience – one people can’t help but remember and talk about – in a great way.